St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock might have struck gold last night. The line of T.J. Oshie, Vladimir Sobotka and Vladimir Tarasenko was seemingly unstoppable, and the Edmonton Oilers couldn’t come up with an answer for a second line that looked an awful lot like a top line.
They compiled eight points on the evening and were a major factor in a monster four-goal third period ambush by the Blues.
The line of Tarasenko-Sobotka-Oshie finished with eight points and each player had a goal. I’d say that’s a successful evening. #StlBlues
— Andrew Allsman (@allsmandrew) March 14, 2014
This hasn’t been a frequent line combination for Hitchcock though, as Sobotka’s most frequent linemates this season have been Jaden Schwartz and Tarasenko. According to Dobber Hockey’s frozen pool line tracker, Sobotka has taken more than 14 percent of his regular strength shifts with these two.
Switching out Oshie and Schwartz seemed to ignite Sobotka and Tarasenko, and the trio dominated. They each bring something special to the ice, and after watching them play for a few minutes it’s easy to see how tough it is to stop such a smart, hardworking line.
To this point of the season, Oshie has skated almost exclusively with David Backes and Alexander Steen at full strength—36.44 percent of the time according to the frozen pool line tracker. All told, the trio of Oshie, Sobotka and Tarasenko has only seen the ice together for touch over four percent of Oshie’s shifts.
If the rest of the lines had fallen flat after the change out, then maybe Hitchcock would have reason enough to move away from the line. Schwartz scored twice though, and Backes and Steen both assisted on one of his goals.
So please, for the love of the hockey gods: Hitch, keep these guys together!